How To Build Your Early VC Network: Turning Social Capital Into Financial Capital

Hi everyone good morning thank you so Much for joining us Um I'm really excited to talk to these Three today like a lot of you in the Audience they are founders with you know Ambitious Visions uh we have big plans For their companies of course in order To achieve their objectives they've got To get investors to buy into their Vision so it's not easy especially for You know Geffen and Josh for example They represent you know women and black Founders women during the height of uh You know the Most feverish fundraising environment We've seen last year attracted something Like two percent of venture dollars Black Founders attracted one percent if We had a latinx or black female founder Up here it would be closer to zero Percent of venture funding so they're up Against a lot they have to be noisy and Social in part to attract attention and They've done it successfully so I want To talk to them a little bit today about How they did it guys thank you for Joining us Um so first you all have really truly Interesting and very different Businesses so I thought we could you Know introduce the audience to what You're doing Geffen you're working on Couplet coffee yep a direct-to-consumer Brand so tell us a little bit about how

You are building your business and why You decided to spend your time on this Idea in particular yeah I mean I used to Work in Tech I studied Linguistics and Computer science at UCLA and that was my Path Um and the pandemic hit and I wanted to Start a side project that was just going To be you know something that I was Excited about really And I just started building it on Twitter online asking a bunch of Questions the first year was literally Just asking people questions all the Dumb questions you can think of about Coffee everything in the supply chain Coffee shops where the missing gaps and I just got so much more excited about it Than my work in Tech honestly Um And I realized the major gap for me in The coffee Market was you know making Specialty coffee or just really premium Coffee something that a lot more people Can reach there was a lot of Accessibility approachability and and Really majorly No fun so I was like let's do something Really fun let's let's do everything That we can do and throw things at a Wall and figure out like what that looks Like and that's what couplet is today Just a really fun and approachable Coffee brand that's really great I know

They're also stayed and serious so it's Nice to have I mean it's just like yeah It's a really serious industry it's a Little bit overly serious and even like The language used on the packaging is Overly serious and we have poems on There and rainbows and mushrooms so That's great I love it and Josh tell us About your company yeah so um I've Always worked uh in consumer software Primarily b2c across Media communication Tools and most recently entertainment Um so I was at tick tock on the global Product operations team uh and campfire Came to me when I was working there Because I was like there's a social Isn't solved like there's a lot of other Ways that we can connect authentically And intentionally online so campfire is A place where we leverage people Leverage photo and their voice to create Authentically and connect intentionally So it's like you're not you're not Really there to look have the best Looking photo you're looking to use the Photo to tell the best story so that's What we're doing over here uh over at Campfire so we're in the space we're Between like photo sharing and social Audio is where we're building so it's Interesting so explain the app a little Bit more to me so yeah you pick up a Camera a picture from your camera roll Yes and then you record like a 30 30

Seconds audio okay and then you can Obviously like re-record it and Yeah for us it's like you upload a photo You talk about it for 30 seconds because You want to put a cap on it because Creativity lives within constraints it's How I look at it Um and so we do that and then we have Something called sound Suite where you Can add a background audio to to the uh To the post so it makes it more Immersive so that's kind of what we're Doing we're like building in the Intersection of photo sharing and social Audio that's great it's also good just a Great exercise because it's so hard to Tell a compelling story and to have to Figure out how to tell it in 30 seconds I feel like it's a skill that could you Know benefit people people are doing it They're doing it they're having they're Doing they're having some good some good Moments on there that's really great I Love And then Nick I know we covered your um Company a little bit in TechCrunch Um so you started off writing a fintech Newsletter first you worked at Google I'll let you tell the story and now You've got a fun Uh yeah so this week in fintech started Out as a fintech newsletter it was Honestly just an internal newsletter and Then it kind of snowballed uh as fintech

Grew over the last three years so I'm Lucky that we've got a fantastic team of 14 people now we have newsletters for Multiple geographies we have editors Based on four continents we have a Couple podcasts and an event Series Where we've had about 15 000 people come Through our fintech events on five Continents now but still feels like very Early days and TechCrunch has been a big Inspiration with all the fintech Coverage that your team puts together so It's a really interesting time to be Building in fintech and we're just Trying to consolidate all of that and Make it a little bit more digestible Okay it's a bigger operation than I Realized I did see that you were gonna Have an event like in Austin and then a Couple of days later in Cape Town and I Was like obviously Nick is not going to Be at all these places but when you say It was an internal newsletter so you Were at Google were you did you start it When you were at Google uh just before I Started it at a pedal where I was before Google building a credit card and we Actually had a team that was always kind Of posting fintech news in slack but People were a little bit scattered and They were always worried about when Competitors were building and so the Reason I started the newsletter Initially was to say hey let's just

Summarize everything that's going on Like understand what our read should be What insights we can draw and then how We think about how the space is changing Over time because it's changing so Quickly now right Um send it to a couple friends outside The company and then it just spiraled a Little bit from there so today we have 35 000 readers and you know we're just Really lucky that we have a great team Putting together all the content that we Have that's terrific so so all three of You have used sort of you know Communities that you've built to help With your fundraising efforts yours is a Little bit more sort of clear-cut and I Want to get to it but Geffen tell me a Little bit more about your strategy so You were just talking to Alex backstage And he said he's seen you drink many Cups of coffee across many different Social media platforms so tell me how You think about it I guess how strategic You are in terms of like how often You're posting where you're posting why You're posting where you are posting Yeah I wish I had a sophisticated answer For you Um I just if you go on my Twitter right now It's it's ramblings it's uh it's dating Stuff it's it's raising stuff it's Coffee stuff it's uh consumer package

Good stuff it's it's really just what's On my mind like I'm honestly not very Strategic about it but Obviously here and there I'll talk about Like the progress with couplet what's Going on and get people enticed because To be honest with you like a lot of the Times I've gotten a lot of my bigger Checks just inbound DMS from people Because they're seeing the progress you Know even if it's not super calculated Like every week I'll tweet something I'll just something happened I'm excited About I'll tweet it I'll share it I'll Announce something they'll just see Consistent progress so that leads to a Lot of inbound honestly um from Investors from you know Partners all Sorts of things and I would say I spend most of my time in You know quote unquote strategy just on Twitter and it looks like I'm not doing Much but there's a lot going on in the DMS it's incredible I mean I think I Read that Jen Rubio of a way yeah Reached out to you that way so that is Actually how I ended up doing a couple At full time was uh while I was in College uh working on couplet Jen dm'd me and was like hey you should Be doing this full-time I was like Jen No like I want to have a salary for the First time in my life I want to get out Of my 300 square foot apartment really

Bad that's not not on a Founder salary Would that happen and she told me she's Like you should just raise as much as You need to give yourself the salary you Need which by the way I did not do but I Was like let's just get through this Let's let's put all the money into the Business and you know rough it for a Minute but yeah I just I knew when she Told me that that it was the right time To just go all in on something even Though I didn't feel like I was ready uh And I was just graduating college Um I mean I honestly had a plethora of Experiences leading to that point that Made me confident and being able to Build something at whatever scale and She saw it in me when I was not super Confident yet and then that kind of gave Me the Boost to do it full-time that's Amazing that's really terrific yeah and Then Josh I've seen some of your tick Tocks which are very funny but tell me a Little bit about your strategy yeah so For me uh I don't particularly have a Strategy like for people some people in This room probably follow me on Tick Tock uh Silicon Valley you know the the Satirical takes on on Tech Um my strategy I don't really have like A strategy around raising it's like I Was posting my videos when I was working At Tick Tock so I was just like posting My videos I think

Um my videos have gotten shared quite a Bit so like I got on people's Radars so Ahead of like once I was on people's Radars I was like oh like cool I have This idea for photo and voice started Talking to some folks about it one of The first people I talked about it uh Was Charles Hudson over at precursor so Precursor actually Led Led our precede And I got on his radar from him seeing My videos originally and then you're Like okay cool like okay you're trying To build something what are you doing And then like what what people tend to Learn about me is that they're like okay I've seen your videos like what like What do you do though uh and then it's And then it's like oh yeah so I've been Working in products across product Management product operations to be Deceived for for years now and I'm a Second time founder my first company was Called like me it was an identity and Interest-based social network we built Uh uh an undergrad on iOS so this is my Second time launching on iOS Um so yeah I'm like I don't have a Strategy around it I kind of like I'm Kind of like guessing like I I say I Ramble on Twitter I make videos on Tick Tock it's like it's not it's not a it's Not as formulaic as people may think it Is because of your formulaic then you're Not authentic if you're not authentic

Then how can people connect is the way I Look at it and so you you were at Tick Tock so you probably had Insight maybe Into what works most effectively there Is there anything you know in terms of Like you said it's kind of haphazard but Just Um in terms of the content that you Think kind of you know resonates Especially or Like just generally or yeah and just you Know I mean it feels like it's Yeah I mean you know again just if There's anything for these guys you grab Onto like maybe if I were to yeah I mean The biggest thing with Tick Tock is like Tick Tock videos in general I mean this Is just a Content thing uh you want to Say you want to start strong like say Something that grips them in and in the End needs to be something that they Remember the middle can be what the Middle is obviously you want the whole Thing to be good but say something to Grab them in originally and you have to End it strong as well because they Remember people remember the beginning And the end of things they rarely Remember the middle Um is the way that I've done it um and Yeah that's kind of how I've looked at The tick tock thing but yeah not foreign Lake over here just like I posted videos On Twitter post them on Tick Tock people

Like it Um and yeah and now we're here yeah I Like the ending on a high note Um in terms of like I guess Tick Tock Versus Twitter do you feel like one is More effective in reaching entrepreneurs Or VCS than the other Twitter for sure They're all there yeah highly effective Yeah highly effective over LinkedIn Honestly 100 yeah it's Twitter yeah Um and then Nick you're obviously Reaching them through their inboxes uh Are you also pretty active on social Media as well oh yeah it's been way too Much time on Twitter I feel like it's The only place I make friends anymore Um no Twitter is a great way to connect With people I mean so all kind of Contextualize it this way like a lot of People ask me about breaking into Fintech or starting something similar For like their Community whether it's Like cleantech or wherever they're focus Is Healthcare and they say like how do You get started with doing something Like this and my honest answer is if You're interested in a space and are you Really passionate about it then connect With other people who are also Interested in that space on Twitter Because like the emphasis of Twitter is Not broadcasting some kind of like Perfect picture of your life or it Doesn't have the same emphasis as other

Social media it's really creating a Focused conversation and allowing Dialogue between people who like Otherwise want to have a chance to Connect right like having the founder of A way just reach out to your DMs and say You're really good at this you should do This 100 yeah I mean it it's but it Really is for me and and for Josh too I've seen it's very much about Showing your whole self and not just Tweeting about your business I think That makes it interesting yeah you're Giving the bigger picture so agreed yeah Um and just within you know with regard To the newsletter and your Twitter Following how do you turn that early Interest into actual money like how do You say you know do you like me enough To write me a check who's who's taking That one Anyone who can take that by E first Um it uh There is kind of a slow and steady build So the newsletter started and I kind of Found myself between two groups of People one were people who wanted to Invest in early stage fintech and they Would reach out asking me if I knew good Companies the other word Founders saying Hey we're looking for Angel Investors so We created a Syndicate to let the Community reinvest in early stage

Founders invested about two million Dollars over about 40 companies in about A year and a half and I took a look at Back in the one year and said okay What's going well it's not going well And there's kind of structural issues With this indicate that make it not the Best founder experience and so that was Kind of the proof of concept for raising The fund but raising the fund I mean it Depended on having a brand it depended On like being active on Twitter it Depended on being authentic and there Was candidly a lot of smiling and Dialing probably had about 200-ish Conversations for the first fund out of Which you know the majority didn't end Up converting and I think Kind of like we were talking about the Founder Journey you have to take a lot Of rejection knowing that if you are Persistent that you'll be able to get to Your end goal it's just going to take Time and it's going to take persistence Right You know another thing I wanted to ask You guys and this is sort of applicable You know across any sort of founder VC Relationship but I think one thing that Founders tend to do you know it's like You have to tell that you want to be Authentic but you also have to tell the Story of how big this company is going To be yeah so you have to minimize you

Know sort of you know you have to be a Little bit less pragmatic more you know Visionary so Um how do you straddle that line when You're trying to be you know like Um you know you're you're real soft but You also have to kind of Um paint this picture of something That's venture backable I mean is that is that sort of I'm sorry I have some thoughts yeah because it's Definitely really rough to raise money Um nothing like we'll just leave the Whole demographics out just consumer Packaged Goods Um it's just it's tough like a lot of People Don't think it's Venture backable Um there are a lot of you know Things that come out from both sides That are very valid like straight up Even when you just talk about financials Multiple statistics whatever you can Everyone can argue either way but When you really have something you these Days it's not as simple as just plugging It into Facebook ads and not building a Real brand like you genuinely have to go Into big retailers you have to have the Capital to go into big retailers with These crazy payment terms like it's There's a lot to navigate that it's it's All very new the way people are building Brands now

Um so having to Showcase one like I'm Making constant progress to uh there is A real road map even in this extremely Crowded world of coffee and three like Me being the person to do that who was Not in coffee before like those are Three things that I definitely navigate On a daily basis and have to communicate In a lot of different ways but I feel Like when I raised my first round which Was just an angel round Um significantly harder than now because People can literally tangibly see that We are in stores we have big Partnerships there's Um like a lot that's going on that are That even the numbers like everything is Climbing everything's going well it's Just very expensive and very tough but It's you can't really have like an off Three months in that world right I feel Like uh when I I worked at about 12 startups in college Barely past college obviously to be able To do that but um I did a bunch of Different things took time off to like Work in different companies like Tesla Was the last one I took time off to go Work at Um You can have an off six months and no One would really know like I just felt Like that was something that happened a Lot in a lot of different companies you

Know a project that I was working on at Hulu uh two years ago came out now right It's it's kind of wild to see the Differences and there's the iteration I Feel Um and showing that iteration but also Being able to Say okay cool progress and also you're Dealing with a lot of these major Problems really well while also trying To be transparent that some days are not Good I even tweeted yesterday I was like Yo today I was like kind of not a good Day and founder life got dinner with a Friend and it was really nice and people Like engaged with that and they like That too but I like to show the bigger Picture like I don't believe in Constantly showing that things are good Some days things are just not good right So I you know there was a week where we Just didn't make enough sales and I was Just it was going through it like this Sucks oh my God like am I gonna be able To raise because of this like it's Really wild even on a weekly basis so The all those ramblings to say like I Still believe that yes I have to be Pragmatic and yes you have to show Consistent progress but it's I do think People are looking for nuance and people Have definitely reached out to me and Told me like before they were going to Reach out about investing either like

Big check Angels or VCS we are actually Pretty confident in you because you are Transparent about the issues that you Deal with but you also are constantly Seeking help so it's not just about oh You did this this month and that this Month and you had the Bumble partnership In this partnership and fellow products And all the stuff that we've done like Oh you actually had a major Operations issue that you did not have The capital to solve but you're Scrappy Enough to solve it because you asked the Internet and your friends and you talked About that process Um and I've been open about making Mistakes and I continue to make mistakes So it's I don't think it's just about Showing the progress I genuinely feel Like a lot of the people that I've Talked to who have reached out to me About investing Were saying exactly that it and that Does include some strategy but to be Honest with you it's just kind of off The cuff for me like oh my God I'm going Through something and the Twitter Community that I have even though it's Small it's like so supportive and Engaged you know yeah and Josh I see you Not nodding your head a lot do you feel Like you can also be somewhat Transparent or I don't know again if You're quite as active on social media

Yeah I'm pretty active on Twitter and Tick Tock like decent followings on on Both of those I guess the way that I Look at it when it's like telling the Line between authenticity and the Greater Vision I think you can be Authentic as a person and still paint The greater vision of what you're trying To build like what we're trying to do is Leverage we believe that voice is the Medium communication that connects us The most and then how do we build that Um for for the world like how do we Connect everyone globally via voice and Visual like how do we do that it's Pretty easy to paint that greater Picture because we've seen consumer Socials photo sharing social audios that Like grow and and grow and connect Millions of people around the world what We're looking to do is like how do we How do we let people tell the story Behind the moments in their life how do We enable that in Canada the US Europe Those these are the territories that We're live in so I think me being Authentic as a person Um helps with like that because like Okay we know that I you know I made Content about stories like I write Things on Twitter about that like it's Like it's very easy to see how someone Like myself can build something to Enable other people to tell their story

Because I tell mine pretty often so That's kind of way I look at it you know I also just wondered so you like many Founders in this audience probably have Had a pivot so your app started as more Of like a dating app it was called heart To heart now it's called campfire so in Terms of I mean how how transparent were You in during that process or was it Like ta-da we've got a new oh no yeah I Was pretty I was pretty straightforward With with our investors so I do a Monthly investor update to everyone on Our cap table Um so for me I was like okay we're Building heart to heart and I was like Are we being too prescriptive too soon With the mechanism because there's a new Mechanism of photo and voice primary or Asynchronous we're not live so it's like Okay maybe people and people did were Asking like when can we use it to Connect with friends when can we use it To like not use it in a romantic context I was like you know what I always looked At heart to heart as a connection Company like the overarching thing I was Like okay we're starting in the vertical Of dating but how do we ex we'll one day Expand it to all these other things Instead of doing that and just doing That like incrementalism I was like you Know what let's switch it over let's Open up the pie uh let's make a campfire

Give people the mechanism photo invoice And let's see how they use it versus Being prescriptive with it so I told our Investors like I told them that in May That was like okay like I'm gonna make The decision that what we're going to do Either I'm going to stay heart to heart And really build heart-to-heart age-wise Is actually shaping up to be like EHarmony and competitor versus Like a a hinge a Tinder or Bumble kind Of situation based off not only like the Age of the our demographic because the Median age of our heart-to-heart user Was 28. so we're going we're going in That direction age-wise Um so I was pretty transparent with them I was like I'm not going to just like Spring it on them because if you spring It on people then they won't give you More money right so like you want to be Honest about like okay like Hey we're We're expanding the pie this is what We're seeing and I gave like a very deep Rationale on like why I wanted to to Move the company in this direction and Everyone was on board right right it Does feel like we're going through kind Of like a generational shift towards Authenticity which I really appreciate Something that like I admire a lot more About gen Z honestly and I'm a Millennial is that I think people feel Like a lot more comfortable with being

Their whole selves and like not kind of Compromising and like only bringing Their work self to work and so like you You know social media used to be Facebook and Instagram there's super Curated version of your life and now It's tick tock and be real where like People are authentic and people kind of Reward authenticity and they build each Other up which I think is Um I think it's a shift in the right Direction and I'm hoping that more of it Bleeds over into like how you lead your Company like being honest about your Challenges and like communicating the Learnings that you're getting from them Like that's the kind of person that I Would personally want to invest in is Somebody who can kind of check their the Door and say look we're going to take Challenges we're going to have setbacks And we're going to learn from them and That's going to make us better right no I think so too I mean obviously mental Wellness is a big issue and Entrepreneurial community so this is Great guys thank you for starting to Submit questions Um let's see here How do you handle crises when your Network is so tied to social so I guess You kind of talked a little bit about That you talked about your crises pretty Openly I mean I guess you can't be

Completely you know Can't be doomsday everybody You can't say I'm like concerned about The viability of my company here um how Let's see when do you separate personal Private versus personal public brand on Social that's a good question because I Mean you want to sort of extend yourself But you also want to have you know some Privacy so how do you like what are the Lines that you guys draw around what You're gonna be mine is pretty short and Sweet Um I tweet my thoughts but I don't tweet My life yeah Um I on Tick Tock I'm making videos from The satirical lens of like the industry So that's not really a personal thing That's more of a creative thing but yeah I always I always give my thoughts about Things but I rarely tell people about my Actual life like there's no there's I Personally get no value out of that and I think there's certain things for me Personally that I just want to keep to Myself yeah um so yeah I just tweaked my Thoughts but not my life and do you wade Into like toppable issues or is that Dangerous is it sort of like Disconnected give me an example like Kanye I weigh in I I choose I choose which Ones I'll weigh in on like things like That like I'm like you know I shot a

Line between consumer Tech and Entertainment so I can talk about Entertainment but I don't like there's Like super hot button issues I'm like I Don't really need to weigh in on that Publicly I'll maybe talk about it in Private channels but like I don't Personally feel the need of weighing in Every single thing I did say something About Kanye but there's there's that It's hard to refrain uh what do you Think Nick how much do you share sort of With and including with your newsletter I think everybody has to decide kind of Where they draw the line and like some People are openly like TMI posters and Like that's fine if you know being able To share is like therapeutic for you or Like you feel like it helps you like my Line is basically that I it's just Really similar to Josh's like I don't I Don't expose other people involved in my Life so like anything that I share I can Share about myself because like I can Take front of like over sharing but I Don't want to do that to like other People in my life so it kind of like Limits the aperture a little bit but I Think At the end of the day like to kind of Tie it back to like fundraising from Your community like people look for Heuristics Um like this just how we are we're

Humans like we look at like pattern Matching and so Um I think people will look for the Heuristic of somebody who's like super Successful and self-assured and like my Hope is that we're changing that over Time where people like feel comfortable Not always being right and not always Being correct and like especially just Not posting like these kind of Um hustle glorification tweets of like If you're not working eight hours a week In your 20s like you don't want to be Successful like that kind of thing right Like I think like we need to be like a Little bit more honest about like who we Are how we work and like what's actually Healthy right right yeah it's such a Such an issue um you know that sort of Pattern matching you know the very you Know bold entrepreneur who everything's Going well you know went to certain Schools uh you know had had certain jobs And and then you know obviously VCS are Sort of looking for Um that the person to a fault you know I Follow Matt Levine a common illness on Bloomberg who's great and he'd um done Us a bit on you know VCS who found Stanford dropouts to a fault but they Don't want to not invest in some Stanford dropouts because then the other Stanford dropouts will get wind that They're saying no to some of these guys

And then you know maybe they miss out on The you know investment of the decade But so much of it is getting into the Funnel however you're able to do it and Then once you're in it I mean Can you take a breath or is it still you Know you're still you guys have very you Know early stage companies pre-seed Companies Um is it like spinning up the wheel Every time or do you feel like now that You know Charles does he go to bat for You how do you how does how do things Yeah I mean Charles I mean like the the Best like I have a few people on the cat Table like Charles definitely goes to Bat for me Um but I like I also have like on my own Network so like Charles introduces me to People Charles is actually somewhere Here he's gonna be at Battlefield Um uh Marie Rocha from realest Venture She also like helps to introduce me to Folks um Bryce Roberts from oatv uh is Helpful Um as well as Andy Wiseman from Union Square he's one of our Angels um so They're all like when I think of people On the cat table have been helpful when It comes down to connecting to investors And and things of that nature they're Very helpful in that way so yeah I think You know who you choose to be on your Cap table is super important but I will

Really say for everybody it's very Important who you choose to lead if you Have a choice of a lead like that's a Privilege in itself but who you choose To lead your pre seed financing can be Very very impactful because that person Will either put in follow on they'll Open up doors like and you know in this Environment you your existing investors Are like your Lifeline yeah so they're Not going to give you more cash it is People's companies are just going under Yeah because like they're like you don't Like people aren't writing checks as Frequently as they were last year so Like everyone's going back to their Exist things and if your exist things Are not strong then you're just dead so That's kind of that right right okay Great yeah I wasn't sure if you had to Yeah I keep up with the social media quite as Much because of that Um let's see uh Joshua is there any Struggle to reconcile using a large Social platform or authenticity is often Lacking to promote an app that promotes Authenticity Read that again Um is there any struggle to reconcile Using a large social platform where Authenticity is often lacking to promote An app that promotes authenticity so I Guess

This person suggesting that Tick Tock is Maybe not you know like people are kind Of creating personas and yeah Tick Tock is an authentic place I would Say it's like less polish but Um I don't have any like Conflicts with like you know being on Twitter or Tick Tock I'm building an Authentic company I think Twitter and Twitter as well as Tick Tock I think are The the more authentic places of social Like versus like Instagram and Facebook Things of that nature so I don't Personally have any conflicts with like Being a voice on Twitter or being Um or making content on Tick Tock Because I think those places are Authentic because me I can't really do The um the curated Polish thing like I Don't have Instagram Um so I don't have Instagram because I Can't do that thing so the places I Spend the most time on Twitter and Tick Tock where I feel like I don't I can be More off the cuff versus very curated so I personally don't have any any Conflicts with it and this is an Interesting story what or excuse me Question what are the some of the Differences in social media strategy for B2B So this is might be most applicable for You Nick I mean you're you're probably Talking on Twitter to other

Well Yeah I mean it's interesting because Like this actually I would say Um this weekend fit Tok has kind of Grown in spite of my marketing prowess Rather than because of it Um I I'm not like particularly good at Branding or marketing that's why the Fund is called the fintech fund and the Newsletter is called this week in Fintech like I'm not a brand Genius Like If you like talk to your like Seven-year-old self and you're like this Is what I'm going to be doing and you Said I'm going to make coffee more Interesting and I'm going to include Like rainbows and mushrooms and unicorns Or I'm going to like create a photo Sharing app where you can tell stories Through photos and it's going to be your Authentic self Or I'm going to sit in between finance And Technology like your seven-year-old Self would easily choose the first two And I feel like you've done a great job Like creating something interesting in An interesting space so like to get back To your question about B2B marketing Like my answer is if you're a nerd for Something just like go and engage as Much as you can and to the extent that Like you are actually like contributing Like something different and meaningful And valuable and insightful and like

Interesting like other people will glom Onto it and then they'll like Participate in that conversation whether It's like you know uh saying something Interesting like a B2B space about like A different app or like revealing like Product insights like just make sure That what you're doing is like uniquely Different whether it's like advertising Or marketing or just your own content And what about uh sort of moving the Conversation uh offline so your business As you're saying d2c has gotten really Tough 10 years ago you could build a Brand pretty easily buy some Facebook Ads Instagram and suddenly everybody Knows it and they're interested it's Gotten a lot harder so you're having to Get retail space maybe do pop-up stores I mean I'm doing a lot of pop-ups yeah Do you okay we're this Friday we're Doing a pop-up yeah right right so Where's it going to be off of Melrose And Fairfax in L.A let's go yeah yeah Um yeah I mean honestly for me I've been Doing the building Community thing for a While already When I was still like a little bit more Deep in the tech world I uh started a Community called bunch of Founders and It immediately got like 2 000 people in There it was a slack group it was pretty Curated for Underrepresented Founders to meet VCS to

Meet other Founders have different Topics and conversations and now I Honestly host events at my house that Are literally Brands and creators or Like it's just kind of a different theme Every time and everybody's like found Some sort of value in that because Everything has been going shifting Towards you know IRL now and that Includes couplet you know we constantly Pop up we're hosting events the event This Friday's gonna have about 300 People there it's like coffee bar Non-alcoholic cocktail bar by three Spirit like all sorts of things and it's Primarily for the queer community so It's a lot of allies seriously still Show up though which is fun because it's It's like the only sober queer space That's uh that really exists in LA right Now and We're looking to create that as a more Permanent concept you know so like those Those are things that riling up people In real life getting them to be excited About it we have this coffee cart that We bring around a bunch of different Places on like every two to three week Basis Um and I hire a breeze said to just like Make these like funky drinks for people And a lot of the people that have Actually tried from the cart are not the Same people that go to the fancy coffee

Shops they just happen to run into us in These places and it's really nice to see Someone be like oh my God this is what Coffee tastes like Oh I thought I could I just thought instant was what there Was or Folgers is what I've been Drinking at home but seeing that first Like light bulb go off is really what I'm building it for so that does take a Lot of in real life stuff yeah so that's Terrific yeah and what about you Josh so Ours is like we're launching a college Ambassador program uh so we're going to Be going we're not doing like digital Stuff so we're going to be we're Starting at the University of Miami as Well as Eastern Michigan so we're Primarily working with college athletes Um to promote a campfire around the Around the campuses that they're at Um so looking forward to that we're Launching that in the next couple weeks Um and we're going to start at Miami Start Eastern and then we're gonna you Know as we penetrate the student body The undergrad and graduate student body At these campuses then we'll just take It uh all over all over uh the us Because we feel like Um photo and voice is not only a method Of creation for like folks like the Median age of a campfire user is 26 Right consumer social user has to age up Yeah um so we want to see do we resonate

With the Gen Z audience this photo and Voice resonate with them I feel like it Will so we want to try that out but yeah Our offline thing is mainly the college Ambassador program great great sounds Like a great surgery Um what if you mentioned slack channels I'm just wondering is anybody here using That as a mechanism for communicating With your customers or getting to know I Don't I don't we have we have slack like Company-wise Nick you're not doing that either no we Have um we Maintain a slack group with about 5 000 People on it Um although you know I think there's a Lot more that we could be doing there Like I like I think slack can be really useful if You're able to use it to like direct the Right resources to the right people and Do stuff like facilitating like Introductions and connections um like There are things that I want to do like Host a job fair within slack or do a Cross company hack week in slack but it Requires a lot of Maintenance to Actually like make it actionable to People I think what happened is Um Coveted start in the US everybody went To work from home everybody joined a Million online communities and like all

These slack groups blossomed but a lot Of them were just kind of like Undirected and so we don't want to be Just another slack group I mean what You're saying about creating a physical In-person space for the queer community In LA to actually meet up and not have It be centered around drinking is like Something that like really creates value For people like people like probably Draw a lot out of that Um and so I never want to work on Anything that's just another one of like Something that exists like everywhere Else and I am like a big believer Personally in karma like in a personal In a professional sense and I think if You're actually doing something that Creates like real value for people where Somebody comes up and says thank you at The end like eventually like you'll Benefit from that too just like you have To like keep doing things that are like It's not about me promoting my brand It's about like what we can do as a Community together and what I can do for You that makes sense yeah I that Literally people coming up to me after The events this will be our fourth one And telling me that they met like some Of their best friends or like the first One they're coming again to this one That's crazy even if it happens once I'm Like this is worth it I'll do it again

And we never make money on the event Either so like it's worth it though That's really terrific yeah Um guys we're running out of time here And I'm sorry I keep looking over here The clocks here but um a question for Josh I'm a young black founder raising My first round and I'm wondering if you Targeted VCS and angels that supported Underrepresented groups did I yeah uh no I did not just so it just so happened to Be like these are just like I have a Pretty diverse professional and personal Relationship kind of thing I don't know If you're right here in the crowd I have A pretty diverse professional and Personal background it's something that Was in the back of my head but I didn't Target them specifically to raise from It just so happened that you know Charles and I aligned so happened that Marie and I aligned Um but I didn't uh Target specifically But I do have a pretty diverse cap I Have men women black White like I have a diverse cap table Um on that on that kind of side on that Side of things but I didn't Target uh a Diverse fund specifically to raise fund Now and Josh your experience really is That you know kind of based on your School you know USC Tick Tock yep that Really minimizes a lot a lot of the Other differences you know the yeah

That's something that you know their VCS Are really focused on sometimes Credentials Above All Else yeah that's Something I would want to like touch on Like really quickly is that like when You're raising from when you're have You're from an underrepresented Background like like effin and I are Um when you have the the school the Professional experiences things of that Nature it makes it easier for people to Bet on you so if you look at like uh Underrepresented folks who are trying to Raise Capital Um like Geffen and I have raised capital And we're and we're underrepresented Groups but if you look at our Professional and academic backgrounds it Does somewhat mirror the majority like We went to we went to good schools we Worked at places every people know like Things of that nature so the the raising The fundraising process is fundamentally Different for those who have it versus Those who don't and that's something That isn't talked about enough with the Nuance behind it because it's more than Just like the demographic you see but Like what else is under there that can Make it harder or make it easier for you To raise Capital right right yeah I mean For Better or Worse VCS are very Risk-averse when it comes down to it I Think there's just like a lot of pattern

Matching yeah yeah like heuristics Matter and people just want to look at Like the credentials that they know it's Like I'm not going to get fired from Making this decision because I invested In somebody who like you know went to Stanford or Harvard or like I invested Like look I I'm a white guy of you see I Look like 76 of VCS so when I have calls With people like as a baseline people Say oh well this person looks like a VC And so like if you don't have that it's It's like a very real and pervasive Effect and like anything you can do to Build up your credentials in another Space it kind of lets you just like walk In like put your resume on the table and Say like I you know have a valid reason To be in the room here and you have a Reason to want to invest in me Okay and if you're a VC in the audience Uh you know hires and wires there we go Blog posts are great but hires and wires There you go and less mentorship more Funding guys thank you so much really Appreciate it really treated good to Know all of you awesome thank you thanks Everyone for coming


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